Born: 1960 Primary Instrument: Saxophone
The first jazz record I heard was Cannonball Adderley’s Live at the Club. Music laughed and cried while the audience clapped and shouted encouragement. The experience of that feeling became my calling.
For 37 years I studied, performed, composed, recorded and taught music. A peak experience came in 1998 when I recorded with drummer Elvin Jones. Before the recording his wife said, “The music may be good or bad. What’s important is the feeling.” Sage advice – craft should be subservient to authentic expression.
At a concert of 19th century Spanish guitar music I recognized that authenticity again – an abstract expression of pain and joy. I also heard the same emotional warmth echoed in 20th century Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. I envisioned a bridge between the feeling in his music and jazz.
As I developed the Villa-Lobos inspired concert program in 2009, writing became important to me. Each musical piece became a scene. I wrote a narrative thread to weave the music into a larger story for the audience. Until this concert, I attempted to tell stories exclusively through the abstract language of music. But writing gave me tools to communicate more directly – to meld history with music.
In 2010 I began writing for a Seattle magazine, Earshot Jazz. Monthly profiles of artists, venues, books, and concerts prompted me to find new source material and compose a compelling narrative of Seattle history. Now I relish the opportunity to describe music to a wide audience from a musician’s perspective.
Awards:2012: 4Culture Historic Site Specific project grant to create music and spoken word concerts at the Panama Hotel based on Oscar Holden, the patriarch of Seattle Jazz 2012: 4Culture Individual Artist Grant to collect oral histories for a biography of saxophonist/educator Joe Brazil 2010: Longfellow Chorus Award of Distinction in the 2010 Composition Competition 2001: Earshot Jazz Voice and Vision Series 2001: Gavin National Jazz Radio Charts for “Steve Griggs Quintet LIVE!” #17 with 56 stations reporting 2001: ASCAPLUS Award 2000: Voice of America radio play for “Jones for Elvin – Volume 2” 2000: ASCAPLUS Award 1999: ASCAPLUS Award 1997: Jack Straw Foundation Artist Assistance Award
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